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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates
February 4, 2020
We expect hundreds of people of all ages to attend our Social Justice Teach-In on February 8 and engage in a variety of workshops covering issues such as environmentalism, food justice, peacemaking, racial justice, refugees, state-sponsored violence, creative nonviolence, and worker justice. Most of the attendees will be high school and college students from 30-35 schools, who can attend for free because of the generosity of dozens of co-sponsors. Please support this important event that empowers young people to become leaders for positive social change.
February 1, 2020
Attacks continue on Garífuna territory defenders in Honduras. Karla Ignacia Piota Martínez was the 70-year-old sister of Amada Piota Martínez, a Garífuna spiritual leader and member of the governing board of OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras). She died on January 11 from seven bullet wounds inflicted during an assassination attempt on December 28, 2019. This is the third killing of a Garífuna community member in Masca in recent months. The assassinations of Garífuna leaders is part of a strategy to expel the Garífuna people from their ancestral territories by dividing communal Garífuna territories into individual lots and selling them to land speculators. The National Agrarian Institute (INA) continues to illegally issue land titles to third party investors. The Garífuna people are watching their beaches, swamp forests, and lagoons taken away by force, with Garífuna leaders assassinated in the process.
January 29, 2020
Chris Knestrick's faith journey has taken him from St. Edward High School to Mercyhurst College, to the Catholic Worker, to IRTF, to Christian Peacemaker Teams-Colombia, to seminary in Chicago, and back to Cleveland as director of the NEO Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH). NEOCH is front and center in the current struggle for dignity and justice for Cleveland's thousands of unhoused residents. Chris' guest column about the City of Cleveland's inadequate response to homelessness this winter was recently published in The Plain Dealer.
January 26, 2020
We are outraged at the wave of violence that continues to impact many regions of Colombia. Since January 1, two dozen social leaders have been assassinated across the country. In this letter we list the names of 20 assassinations that occurred in 6 departments: Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó, Huila, Norte de Santander, and Putumayo. These victims include ex-combatants who are abiding by the provisions of the Peace Accords by participating in the reincorporation process. Also being killed are farmers who are part of the crop substitution program, another key component of the Peace Accords. We echo the statement by the United Nations Security Council on January 15 which characterizes this as “a grave situation of security” and demands that the government of Colombia take “effective actions” to stop these egregious crimes against social leaders.
January 26, 2020
The Living Water Association of the United Church of Christ and the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church have arranged for a free screening of this ground-breaking film. Just Mercy is the new film that tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction.
January 25, 2020
As a survivor of the Bojayá Massacre in 2002, Leyner Palacios has become an outspoken social leader and, as a consequence, has suffered reprisals, including death threats. Since 2002, the communities of Bojayá have suffered serious human rights violations, including forced displacement and mass killings by paramilitary groups and the army. On December 31, 2019, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace denounced that 300 members of the AGC arrived at the Bojayá communities of Pogue, Corazón de Jesús, Loma de Bojayá and Cuia, placed them under forced confinement, and threatened to kill them if they tried to resist. On January 3, 2020, they threatened Leyner Palacios, warning him to leave Bojayá or he would be killed.
NO RELIEF IN SIGHT: PRESIDENT ALEJANDRO GIAMATTEI APPEARS TO BE A NEW FACE BACKED BY THE SAME OLD CRIMINAL NETWORKS
January 15, 2020
President-elect Alejandro Giammattei took office yesterday in Guatemala City. Giammattei comes to the presidency backed by a group of hard-line former military officers reportedly associated with the sector that opposed the peace process that ended Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. Many are also associated with industries that extract resources from rural communities – often with US, Canadian and European investment – a sector Giammattei has pledged to promote. In one of CICIG’s first prosecutions, on August 9, 2010 an arrest warrant was issued against Giammattei on charges of extrajudicial execution related to violent deaths in the Pavon prison on September 25, 2006 while he was the National Director of the Penitentiary System. His then assistant and three police officers were arrested that day, but Giammattei, apparently alerted, had requested political asylum days before in Honduras’ embassy in Guatemala. His request was denied, so on August 13, 2010 he was taken into detention on the Mariscal Zavala military base.
January 15, 2020
* Daniel Berrigan would describe my first arrest as a "yogurt arrest", because it went down easy. Read here about why it was so tame and why I did it.
January 12, 2020
SURJ moves people who identify as white into accountable action to dismantle racism as part of a multi-racial movement for justice and liberation through community organizing, education, mobilizing, and direct action.
January 11, 2020
On December 29, the body of Efraín Martínez Martínez was found semi-buried in the department of Fransisco Morazán after having been reported missing a week prior. Efraín Martínez was a leader of the indigenous Tolupán community in Montaña La Flor. The Tolupán people are historically one of the most impoverished and isolated groups in Honduras. Just a few days later, on January 3 the tortured body of Santos Felipe Escobar García was found in El Carbón, Olancho Department. Family members had reported his disappearance on December 29, when he was apparently abducted. Santos Felipe Escobar was a leader of the indigenous Pech community of Santa María del Carbón.